“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” -Mark 10:9, ESV.
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” – Leviticus 20:10, ESV.
“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:18, ESV
Clearly, Jesus has a high view of marriage. Instead of giving into the permissive interpretation for divorce in his day, he calls everyone back to God’s view about the permanency of the marriage covenant. He teaches us about not seeking to destroy what God has put together–namely, the marriage relationship via divorce.
How does adultery figure into this high view of marriage and Jesus’ restrictive stance on divorce?
I know I struggled on this number early in my separation from my first wife as I desperately wanted her to stay married to me. I took a hard line against divorce. So, my initial reading of passages where Jesus calls out hardness of heart in divorcing was to place the hardness of heart upon the divorce initiating party.
Today, I do not take that same stance.
Adultery changes matters greatly.
This can be seen by looking at the archaic language in Mark 10:9 …”let not man separate” (emphasis mine). Jesus is serious about not abolishing the Law (see Mt 5:18), and the Law is clear about God’s stance on adultery (Lev. 20:10).
God instructed Israel to end two marriages by killing both the adulterer and the adulteress! So, God separates the union, NOT MAN, in the case of adultery. This applied to the Mark 10 passage suggests adultery continues through both the Old and New Testaments to be automatic grounds for divorce. The only difference that I see now with Jesus is that he does not instruct reinforcing the death penalty upon the cheaters. He extends mercy to adulterers and adulteresses just as he does in other areas.
Can marriages be resurrected after adultery? I believe so. However, such are miracles, and an adulterer/adulteress must approach an open door to marriage resurrection as an incredible act of mercy by their faithful partner. Cheaters are not entitled to a second chance, and it took only one act of adultery for them to get the death penalty in the Old Testament, after all. That’s justice according to Scripture.
As long as we continue to teach marriage after adultery is required for faithful spouses, we will teach against the consistent witness in Scripture and buttress the sinfully entitled pride of adulterers/adulteresses.
This helps no one.
Yes, I encourage all to have a high view of marriage. But remember a faithful spouse choosing divorce is simply following through in making official what God declared over in the Old Testament via death.
A cheater ought to be very grateful that we do not live under the Law today!